• 23 July 2021

Sport Climbing & skateboarding make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics!

Sport Climbing & skateboarding make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics!

Sport Climbing & skateboarding make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics! 1024 512 Westmead

Sport climbing and skateboarding both make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics over the next couple of weeks.

Sport climbing will feature three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing – all of which take place on artificial climbing walls. The gold medal will be awarded to the climber with the highest cumulative score.

There are two types of skateboarding on show at this year’s Olympics: street and park. Street involves urban features like stairs, rails, walls, slopes and benches. Park uses a curved course to encourage mid-air tricks.

See below for more information & to get inspired ready for the Westmead Activity Centre opening in Chippenham early next year!

Skateboarding – Sun 25th/Mon 26th July and Weds 4th/Thurs 5th August

Skateboarding’s debut at the Olympics will see a total of 80 competitors in action, divided across two disciplines — park and street.

The park section of the sport will be held in a classic skatepark, and will feature all manner of bowls and slopes, allowing skaters to pull off impressive leaps and manoeuvres. The street portion will be a straighter course which, as the name suggests, is more like a general everyday street, with curbs, handrails, and walls that skaters can incorporate into their routines.

Athletes will be allowed to pick their routes, and will perform a series of skills and tricks that they’ve chosen. The runs though have a time limit on them. These attempts will all be given a score by judges based on the level of difficulty, height, speed, originality, execution and move composition. Moves to look out for include: –

  • Slide: A slide is a trick where the skateboarder slides sideways either on the deck (wooden board) or on the wheels.
  • Grind: This involves the skateboarder sliding on the trucks of their skateboard (the part which connect the wheels and bearings to the deck of the skateboard).
  • Ollie: An ollie is a trick where the rider and board leap into the air without the use of the rider’s hands.
  • Regular stance: This is the side-on position taken by skateboarders with their left leg facing the direction they are moving.
  • Goofy stance: When a skateboarder rides with their right leg facing the direction they are moving. When they swap the position of the front leg in a competition they go from main stance to switch stance. A trick performed in switch stance would usually increase the degree of difficulty.

Skateboarding starts on Sunday 25th July with qualification for the men’s combined event. Find exact dates/times on the official Tokyo Olympics website here.

Britain’s Sky Brown and Bombette Martin will make their Team GB debut on Wednesday 4th August. Sky is Team GB’s youngest-ever summer Olympian – heading to Tokyo 2020 shortly after her 13th birthday. Bombette is 15 and won the GB Skateboard Championships in early 2021. You can read more about Sky, Bombette and other British Olympians on the Team GB website here.

Sport Climbing – Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th August

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) website says climbing is enjoying an increase in popularity, with an estimated 25 million people across the world climbing regularly. With the worldwide climbing community growing it’s a great time to introduce the sport to the Olympics.

In Tokyo it will be a combined format featuring three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing – all of which take place on artificial climbing walls. The gold medal will be awarded to the climber with the highest cumulative score.

Sport climbing starts on Tuesday 3rd August with qualification for the men’s combined event. Find exact dates/times on the official Tokyo Olympics website here. 

  • Speed climbing will see athletes race head-to-head to tag a buzzer at the top of a climb. This involves two climbers racing up a fixed route on a 15m wall, men and women compete on identical routes.   In the men’s event the quickest times are around five to six seconds, while the women’s are usually won in around seven or eight. In an event where speed is of the essence, a false start means instant disqualification. 
  • Bouldering means navigating sets of climbs without a rope that emphasise physical and gymnastic ability.  Climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a 4m wall within a given time, without ropes, over a safety mat. The routes are called ‘problems’ and the athlete that ‘solves’ the most in the lowest number of attempts wins.   In qualifications and semifinals, the climbers observe the problems for the first time during their first attempt, they are kept in an isolation room beforehand. In the finals they can preview the problem during a group observation time of two minutes per boulder. Different problems are set for men and women. 
  • Lead climbing will measure how far athletes get up a taller wall with each handhold earning a point. This sees the competitors attempt to climb as high as possible on an overhanging 15m wall within a six minute time limit. They are secured by a rope. The athlete who climbs to the highest point wins.   Competitors can preview the route during a collective observation time of six minutes, but cannot attempt the route prior to the competition.  When a climber grabs the final hold at the top of a route with both hands, they have completed it.
  • Combining those three into one event is a fairly new concept, and turns the Olympic event into a form of climbing triathlon.

On Wednesday 4th Britain’s Shauna Coxsey competes in the women’s combined event. The competition continues on Friday 6th. Shauna is one of the country’s most successful competitive climbers, winning every British Bouldering Championship she entered and taking home back-to-back golds at the 2016 and 2017 IFSC Climbing World Cups.

You can read more about Shauna Coxsey and other British Olympians on the Team GB website hereExpect her to excel in the speed and bouldering sections, meaning her success could depend on how she handles the lead climbing, which measures how far up a wall she can get. The big unknown is how she has recovered from a persistent back injury.